When Libby Wilson and her husband McLean discovered they were pregnant the second time around, they felt their prayers had been answered. They’d had desperately wanted a second child, but becoming pregnant seemed highly unlikely, since Libby had been told by her doctors that she had the ovaries of a 45-year-old woman. That difficult news, combined with the fact that her body had never ovulated on its own, left dim hope that another biological child would be in their future.
After months of soul-searching, doctor visits, ovulation shots, and prayers, the Memphis couple began to accept their situation and research adoption. Then, last April, they received the surprise of a lifetime. Libby took a home pregnancy test and the results were positive. Needless to say, “We were thrilled,” says Libby.
Surprise of a lifetime
But the couple’s thrill quickly morphed into shock when, at their first ultrasound visit, they learned that Libby was carrying not one, but four babies.
“My husband turned white and didn’t talk for about an hour,” Libby says with a laugh.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to carry four babies and raise four babies.’ While my husband was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to need four car seats, four strollers, four college tuitions…’ ”
When Libby was about 10 weeks pregnant, she and her husband finally told their family and friends the big news, and most of them had the same stunned reaction.
“People are in shock. No one knows people with quadruplets. When I say I am having quadruplets, they say ‘Three babies? No wait, that means four!’ ”
Despite the shocking news, it didn’t slow the couple down and Libby’s pregnancy went smoothly. While she experienced fatigue, she got around fine, which was a blessing as she still had to care for her daughter Grey, an active toddler. Her second pregnancy was definitely more difficult, but primarily because she got so much bigger.
Thankfully, there were no complications when her doctor, Michael Schneider, M.D., put her on bed rest at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women in her 29th week of pregnancy. After three weeks of bed rest, the babies were delivered at 32-weeks gestation during a planned Cesarean section.
The big day
The quadruplets’ arrived Thursday, September 30th, to a packed delivery room. Doctor Paula Pilgrim delivered the babies, with a host of nurses, doctors, and other delivery staff on-hand during the hour long event. It was an amazing day, Libby remembers.
The babies are fraternal quadruplets, one girl and three boys. Baby girl Mimi was delivered first, weighing 3 lbs, 12 oz; then came Mac (short for McLean) at 3 lbs. 12 oz., next was Yates, weighing, 3 lbs. 9 oz., and finally Fitz (short for Fitzsimons) weighing 3 lbs. 6 oz.
The babies stayed in the NICU at Baptist for four weeks before arriving home together, and remarkably, they were on a regular feeding and napping schedule. Libby attributes their smooth transition to the expertise of the NICU staff.
While the couple are glad to be home with their children, Libby thinks of her time in the hospital with a bit of wistfulness. During their monthlong stay, the staff became like family and she misses them. “The NICU did the most amazing job,” she says.
A new reality
Adjusting to life at home with a toddler and four newborns is, well, quite an adjustment. The sheer amount of diapers needed for the babies — between 25 to 30 a day — is sobering. Libby feeds them every four hours, when they receive a combination of breast milk
and formula. She pumps six times a day, which allows her to include three to four ounces of breast milk in each bottle.
And she has help. Her friend Kiersten who baby-sat for Grey, is now a full-time nanny for the family, and during the first four months, the babies had a night nurse who helped with feedings and care-taking.
The couple also has a wide community of friends and family who volunteer their time. Her friends created an online calendar for the couple, where volunteers can sign up to help with feedings and baths, run errands, and bring meals.
While the family greatly appreciates the help, accepting that they can’t do it all on their own has been a tremendous lesson, says Libby.
“It is really hard in today’s world, and especially in Memphis, to let people help you. Especially when you know that you will never be able to pay them back. I never will be able to help my friends and family as much as they have helped me and that is very humbling,” she says.
Along with giving their time, friends have also given their equipment.
“The trick is to borrow as much as possible and to buy as little as possible,” says Libby, describing the load of baby accessories friends have dropped off at her house, including six baby swings, 10 bouncy seats, and nine car seats.
Five is our number
Another life adjustment for the couple is realizing that many of the hobbies and activities they once enjoyed together will have be on hold for a while.
Libby, 31, and McLean, 32, met at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and both love to run, entering long distance races and triathlons. And they love to travel. They lived all over the U.S., including Wyoming, North Carolina, and Vermont, before returning to Memphis, where McLean works as a vice president for Kemmons Wilson, Inc. a family business.
While many of their outdoor adventures are on hold, Libby thinks of home life as the exciting journey. “Our family will be the adventure from here on out,” she says.
And while many young moms feel pressure to make every playdate, lunch, and activity with their children, having quads changes that.
“I am totally free from that pressure,” Libby says, adding that it never crosses her mind to leave the house with her kids at this stage, making it easier to keep the babies on a schedule.
Before they became parents, the couple liked the idea of having a big family — both come from families with five children and Libby, in fact, is a fraternal twin herself; however, they never imagined they would have five children under the age of 2.
So will they be adding to that number?
“We think five is our good number. We’re going to stick with five,” she laughs.